Anthology horror films seem to be a dying breed. Gone are the days of Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt and in are the days of supernatural horror and torture porn. Good anthology horror films are some of the hardest horror films to make. It is hard enough for a good filmmaker to come up with one captivating story let alone three or four, or, in the case of Creepshow, five stories. So it is with this in mind that I dig my teeth into Warner Brothers’ long delayed Halloween themed anthology horror flick Trick r Treat. Is it a delicious treat for slasher maniacs everywhere? Or is it an apple covered razor blade? Well…let’s see…
“Trick r Treat” begins on Halloween night in Warren Valley, Ohio, a young woman named Emma blows out a Jack-o-Lantern in front of her home despite a warning from her husband Henry. She has a tragic surprise for not obeying the Halloween rules. Next (or earlier, you really have to see the film to know what I mean), the virgin Laurie buys a Little Red Riding Hood costume with her sister and two girlfriends as they invite some guys for a party. Meanwhile, the glutton Charlie destroys many Jack-o-Lanterns on the street. When he arrives at the house of the high-school principal Steven, the boy discovers how much the disturbed man respects the dead and the traditions of Halloween. Meanwhile four teenagers invite the outcast Rhonda to join them in their journey to an abandoned rock quarry where a tragic accident with the school bus with eight troubled children happened thirty years ago. They play a prank with Rhonda but when the mean Marcy blows out the last Jack-o-Lantern in the spot, they need the support of Rhonda to escape from the damned place. Laurie sees a stalker that follows her; while walking through the woods to the party, she is attacked and she finally has her initiation. Earlier, the lonely Mr. Kreeg lives alone with his dog Spite and is visited by a scary trick-or-treating creature named Sam.
Wow..that was exhausting. If it sounds confusing or overly complicated, believe me that it’s all part of the fun. Trick r Treat is a delicious throwback to the comic book style anthology films of the 1960′s and 1970′s. For those of you who want their gore laid on thick with extra nudity, you are going to be disappointed. Those who want a good old fashioned horror movie with a lot of twists and turns are going to be much more impressed. From the acting (top notch in just about all the stories) to the spot on directing, to the breathtaking cinematography, just about everything in this movie works. It is the Halloween classic horror fans have been waiting years for.
Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.
Barton Fink (1991)
In the month of October, I am celebrating the films of Not Quite Horror legends Joel and Ethan Coen.
The Monster: Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) begins the darkly comic Barton Fink as a bright spot in a hellish world. The titular Barton Fink (John Turturro) struggles to defeat his writer’s block and finish a screenplay, but his world becomes descends further into the inferno until he is literally surrounded by flames. And at that point, there is no bigger devil than Charlie Meadows.
Meadows represents the demonic anger behind the everyman. He holds onto a mask of normalcy until he can no longer grasp it, and then all that is left of the man is his fury.
The Horror: The ending of Barton Fink may be the greatest visual representation of the Coen Brothers’ nihilism. They burn everything around their protagonist and leave him face to face with the worst in humanity.
In typical Coen Brothers’ fashion, this moment is too awkward and unresolved to offer closure. Creating Charlie Meadows’ deadly world is nothing more than another spiteful laugh at living and dying.
The Shared Fate: Death is no more honorable in this film than it has been in the previous four films discussed this month. Charlie Meadows, in the beginning of the film, could be any strange, beaten man walking past you in the sidewalk. Charlie Meadows at the end of the film is an unleashed animal biting more than he barks.
For the Coen Brothers, we live beside Charlie Meadows, and we live because he lets us live.
This Horror Movie Challenge comes from Slasher Studios co-creator Steve Goltz.
One film I need to watch ASAP is, You’re Next. After missing its short lived life at the theaters, I have heard a whirlwind of emotions surrounding this film. Some love it, some hate it. Not much middle ground. From the comments I have heard though, this seems to be one film I will enjoy.
First of all, I am a huge sucker for slashers and need to see them all, old or new. Second, from what I have seen online, the film has a very nice look to it. The cinematography looks solid and the color tone and lighting seems to be fitting. Third, the masks look epic. This film didn’t do as great as we horror fans could have hoped for, but I would still throw on any of these masks for my next Halloween party. Finally, I hear the dark humor will be right up my alley. I hope the comedy hasn’t been hyped up too much, because a few funny lines can really add too a horror film.
The DVD and Blu-ray release is not until mid January, so unless I can catch it at the cheap seats before its theater life dies for good, I’ll have to wait. But until then, I plan to stay away from too many reviews and trailers so I can go in as fresh as possible, and fingers crossed, make this my favorite slasher of the year!
Todays topic is: “Movie I Will Never Watch.” As much as I want to talk about the Paranormal Activity sequels, we have spent way to much time and thought on those the last few days. So, I’m going to tweak it a bit and go with: “Movie I Will Never Watch Again.” As film lovers we should at least attempt to watch the films that are available to us, right? Well, the film that jumped into my mind as one I will never watch again is, Texas Chainsaw 3D. I had such high hopes for this as we here at Slasher Studios covered it from the first announcement. I enjoy this franchise and was glad to see it alive once again. But, as soon as I found out it was going to be in 3D, I knew I should be worried.
The funny thing is that the 3D stuff was not the aspect that killed this film for me. It was by far and away the characters and story. I found the characters to be unlikable and forgettable. This is one of the greatest horror franchises ever and we as horror fans deserve at least one character we can relate and identify with, or even tolerate for 92 minutes. And what a slap in the face this script was. *Spoiler!!* Heather decides to team up with Leatherface after he just finished chopping up her friends!? This was like a script that had gone through one draft and never looked at again. It’s too bad because so many people were excited to see Leatherface again, but not like this.
If you are a Linnea Quigley fan, then chances are very good that you have seen and probably own Night of the Demons. Directed by Kevin S. Tenney, this 1988 horror flick is a must-see as we near Halloween. Angela is throwing a Halloween party and an old abandoned funeral home. Creepy to the max, this house may not be as deserted as they attendees think. With a fun and capable cast, Night of the Demons plays well anytime of year with an abundance of gore!
With a perfect 90 minute running time, Tenney is able to pace this film out with ease and success. The direction is well done and the characters are fun to watch and follow all the way up to their demise. Quigley is great in just about everything so not much is need to be said about her, but she is just one of the stars that helps lift this movie into 80′s hierarchy. One of my person favorite and lesser know actors is Hal Havins, the actor playing Stooge. Stooge is your classic big, beer loving asshole who can turn almost any of his lines into a laugh.
The house used in Demons is one out of any horror fans dreams. As indie filmmakers, Slasher Studios is well aware of the challenges of location scouting. Just finding the right place is hard enough, and that’s the easy part. Getting the permission needed and gaining the trust of the owners is an adventure in its own. So finding out the story behind this funeral home location would be interesting to say the least.
Be sure to check out the unrated version on DVD to see this film in all of its gory goodness. Steve Johnson was in charge of the effects and absolutely nailed it. The makeup and blood that can be found in this movie are to die for. Any horror filmmaker would be proud to display such a high level of creativity and quality in their films.
Two things I love in life: horror movies and theme parks. With that being said, as I head of the story behind Scream Park, I could not wait until my chance to view this film. The plot sounded fun, the running time was a solid 85 minutes and yes, I loved the title.
Scream Park takes place at Fright Land, the under performing theme park that is forced to close due to lack of attendance. The employees of Fright Land plan to throw one last party at the park after the gates close for the final time. The booze is flowing, the girls are putting out and oh yeah, the villains are killing!
The film had a nice look. The color tone is perfect for the film and the cinematography is decent, but the believable acting is what this film lacks. The acting isn’t atrocious, but some casting improvements could have been made. Perhaps a greater casting search could have benefited the film. Some of the roles are dull and boring and lines seem to flow a bit unnaturally. A few of the cast members did however do a great job, including the park owner (played by the outstanding Doug Bradley, otherwise known as Pinhead from the “Hellraiser” series).
The deaths and effects are well done and my personal favorite is the deep fryer death. I do wish the the story had a bit more going on at the beginning, but the last half was better paced as the killers began to pray on the employees and chase after our final girl. If you like horror movies and theme parks then this is a film to check out. It won’t “wow” you, but I feel the story is fun and unique enough and as we all know, indie horror can always use the support.
“Night of the Creeps” is a forgotten classic from 1986 that mixes just the right amount of humor with a nice dose of jump scenes. When the film was first released, it grossed only $500,000 at the US box office before being unleashed on VHS and on pay stations everywhere. I remember the first time I saw it being scared out of my mind and begging to sleep on the floor of my parents bedroom. While the film doesn’t scare me as it once did, the effects and the acting both hold up quite nicely. If the film does drag a bit in the second act, it comes roaring back for a killer finale. Good stuff all around.
I can handle bad Stephen King films and I can handle bad made-for-TV horror but, when you combine the two you get something pretty unwatchable. Such as the case with 1995′s clunker The Langoliers, a three hour long piece of junk with some of the worst CGI committed to film. The story involving a group of passengers on an airplane made land a plane after just about everyone else has mysteriously disappeared. This would make for a decent Twilight Zone episode but at 3 hours it is just unbearable.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I thought the cuts in the movie were seamless and it really did feel as though the movie was being shot in real time. The movie had a sense of fear and dread that have been missing from the Paranormal movies with some great imagery. Elizabeth Olsen was amazing in this film and after Martha Marcy May Marlene, she has risen to the top of my young actors to watch list. That’s not to say that everything in the movie works. With the expectation of Olsen, the other actors all come off a little hammy, overacting to a sometimes hilarious degree. The geography of the house is never very clear and it is sometimes very hard to figure out just what room each of the characters are in and even what floor they are on. There will be some viewers who will take offense to the ending or, rather, lack thereof. None of these flaws make me like the movie any less. This is an imperfect film but also one that takes a lot of chances and actually requires intelligence from its audience. It’s nice to see what I’ve been missing.
Hmmm, what should I pick? I have to go with the Paranormal Activity 2. The first one was done just right and I wish it was left alone, but we all know making money is then name if the game in Hollywood. I’ll be the first to say I understand the reasoning behind making the sequels and I know there is a crowd for these, but in my humble opinion, they took away much of the power the original had.
Was the first Paranormal Activity perfect? No, of course not. But it could hold its own against many other films of its style and nobody can deny the success it found. I felt suspense and chills and actually found my self enjoying something so out of my normal slasher comfort zone. Then, immediately after, I popped in #2 and felt instantly let down. It just felt cheap and forced. Found the characters boring and could not get involved in the story.
After viewing this sequel, it has put a damper on its predecessor. Paranormal Activity is something I could have found myself watching again in the future, but now have no real desire to check it out again or even continue with the rest of the franchise. Yes, I may be blowing this out of proportion and probably need to take a step back and just see these sequels for what they are, but many of you have got to agree that Paranormal Activity 2 was a bit of a disappointment. Alright, enough of being such a downer! Let’s go watch some 80′s slashers!
Zombieland may not be your typical zombie flick, seeing as it is filled with comedy, but that paired with a few other great attributes is what makes this film stand out. Great effects, a fun and exciting cast and some very cool looking (and fast) zombies creates for a fun and wild ride.
The special fx that can be seen in Zombieland, really took me by surprise. The blood splatter and the make-up done on the zombie actors was well done. It is easy to see that they had an experienced team of artists on hand to apply the rotting skin, scabs and bruises. A round of applause must go out to them. But that was not where the effects ended. Throughout the film, 3D text is displayed over the picture and interacts with its surroundings. I found this to be a very cool visual and really enjoyed the way the words became part of the movie.
The zombies were amazing to watch because they were fast and exciting. They helped give off a felling of suspense and wonder. I always have been a fan of a threatening zombie and these gross guys and girls help give Zombieland a boost a well needed thrill that some fellow undead films may lack. Plus, I felt Woody Harrelson was able to put his own flare into his character and create a very unique Twinkie loving zombie hunter. And nobody can forget the Bill Murray scene. If you have not seen this yet, then I wont spoil it for you. So run and check it out!
Let me start off by saying that I enjoy the original Paranormal Activity. It isn’t a perfect film and too often it feels like it is borrowing wholesale from Blair Witch Project. Nonetheless, it is creepy and fun. The sequels (of which we will get a part 5 next year as well as a spinoff)? Junk. Lazy, lazy junk. Boring lazy junk. I sat through 2 and 3 in the theater hoping against hope this franchise would get better. I give up hope. Why you ask? Two words: Stupid witches.
In a special segment of Not Quite Horror we have a guest reviewer taking a look at the horror elements behind the sci-thriller hit “Gravity.” Thanks Cody Landman for your take on the flick.
The Monster: Space. Not since Alien(s) has outer space been so terrifying. The vast openness, distance, and lack of oxygen are only just a few characteristics of this terrifying monster.
The Horror: Being put on the same level as the same characters (the 3D really provides this). We slowly begin to feel the lack of oxygen our characters feel as we hold our breaths during the events in front of us. The distance, isolation, and fear of the unknown also bring the horror of the film.
The Shared Fate: Watching the horror unfold for our characters and really putting ourselves in their position, gasping for breath, and striving for the will and strength to survive.